By Anshul Verma:
Whenever we delve into the memories of our childhood, a feeling of nostalgia and seriousness overtakes us. Childhood is that time of life which every single person wishes to relive. One does not have to be a writer, poet or author to write on a subject like childhood. Like millions of other children, I too had an innocent yet memorable childhood. The bulk of my childhood was spent in the cities of Shamli and Delhi. When I think about those twelve years, I get caught in the web of time and think beyond the books of professionalism, anxiety and cynicism. When I close my eyes, I can still see a school covered with red bricks, a basket ball court, a stage, a giant playground where many students are standing in a circle shoulder to shoulder and within a flash of a second, some strange person throws forward a sweet little hand of friendship. Whenever class tests took place they flashed the same kind of scores; “Saumya Ranjith 24 out of 25, Himani Goel 22 out of 25,Komal 25 out of 25 and Anshul Verma 8 out of 25.” The frog dipped in a chemical apparatus placed in the biology lab always appeared like a demon to me. I see many more things, small legs and heavy bags running all around and several other visuals which cannot be expressed in words.
In those days I was a diehard fan of cardboard games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and Monopoly. Winning and losing were directly proportional to my mood. The day when my elder brother won 2-3 games in a row, something had to be broken in the house and on the other hand if I won, then the feeling was comparable to winning the man of the match award. Somewhere these things were teaching me sportsmanship. Board games were the top most priority for me. Taking out the large wooden carom board, sitting along with friends giggling and laughing, unaware of the fact that my father was noticing me wasting my time for several days. When I became acquainted with this fact, I somehow thought that my mother would save me from all the scolding. She used to be the license of doing all the mischievous acts, creating a ruckus everywhere and never getting punished for the same.
The games which we enjoy during our childhood play a very vital role in our lives. The moment the real world comes up with some egoism and attitude, one can just enter the virtual world of these games and dwell in an environment of ‘ignorance is bliss’. I learnt a lot from these games. Snakes and Ladders taught me that there are many shortcuts in life which were not essentially shortcuts but rather smart work. A bit of luck on the dice and it would take me directly from 35 to 80 using a ladder leaving behind everyone else by means of the ‘shortcut’. I learnt that sometimes it is easy for us to use shortcuts in life but I also understood that always looking for shortcuts was not a healthy practice. On the other hand, Ludo taught me that hard work is indispensable to life, you have to use tactics and plan in order to win something in a world where falling behind is not an option. Chess is a game of mind, it taught me a life principle that in order to win something enormous, you have to sacrifice small things just like pawns are allowed to be sacrificed for the sake of safeguarding the king. Monopoly had two immense affects on me. One was good and the other one was obviously bad. The good thing about it was that I was able to understand what fair-play was. The bad effect was that like all other ordinary folk, I was also contaminated by the charm of power and it instilled an authoritarian attitude within me.
People ask as to what one gains from these games? What is the benefit? What will he/she grow up to do in order to compete in this world? The answer is quite simple. There is a merciless and competitive world out there where everybody wants to become a topper. Everybody wants a genius kid who could become a doctor, engineer or do an MBA. Nothing less than 95.5 % is tolerated. Anything beneath it is blasphemy. We have to understand that every child has his/her own capabilities and his own desires. Forcing your ambitions onto their delicate shoulders is worse than child labour. Games and other recreational activities force children to think out of the box and give them a necessary break from the daily tumultuous schedule of schooling. To conclude, I just want to quote Oscar Wilde who said, “who wants a cynic, who knows the price of everything but value of nothing.”